How is your backyard terrace looking? Like it’s going to fall on you any day? We can help.
A lot of homeowners think building a backyard terrace is a fun weekend project. In fact, not only is it backbreaking labor, but a certain level of skill is required. Most anyone is capable of mowing, planting and even performing rudimentary tasks and repairs like building a simple deck or laying some pavers.
But terracing a steep landscape has to be done right. You might think you can just eyeball it, and it may even look nice when you’re done, but it will quickly start leaning if the right techniques are not used.
Work Your Way Up from the Bottom
You have to start at the bottom when you’re building a backyard terrace. A lot of people use wooden railroad ties because they are cheap. You have to be careful though — don’t buy the old ones with creosote in them. Creosote has been identified as a carcinogen and is illegal to use in some areas. The nonpoisonous ties are much cheaper anyway.
The length of the spikes you use to secure them varies, depending on the type of soil you have and the amount of weight they need to bear. Generally, they should be at least 12 inches long, but sometimes longer. You can use rebar, and cut it to a custom length if you have trouble finding the size you need.
Keep in mind that even when you purchase pressure-treated wood and execute the job perfectly, the ties will eventually rot, because they are wood. Stone or concrete will last indefinitely.
Level the Soil on Your Backyard Terrace
Many times you will see a DIY terrace job in which the soil between the terraces is sloped rather than level. This is a recipe for disaster. Always level the soil between terraces, or eventually the pressure will push the bottom terrace off of its moorings.
Also, unless you are a skilled mason, it is best to keep your bottom level close to the ground. No one wants to dig and move a lot of soil, so they often attempt to cut corners, making the bottom level three or four feet high. It’s hard to secure a wall this high to the ground properly. They’re unstable.
Solutions Other than a Backyard Terrace
If you have a back yard that slopes steeply upward from your back door, you may want to consider a deck instead of a terrace.
Steeply sloped property is basically unusable; you must find a way to get enjoyment out of all of your land. Backyard terraces are great if you’re a big gardener. People often like to lay a small patio, and then terrace around it. It’s just a lot more work than a deck, and you always have to worry about the soil washing down onto your patio (or into your house!) during a hard rain.
A multi-level deck is beautiful and solves the problem. No excavation is necessary. You can add flower boxes for color, or benches, chaise lounges, dining furniture or even a canopy or gazebo.
Earthworks Landscaping can give you advice about making the best use of your back yard. Just give us a call, and we’ll come out and take a look at your landscape and talk to you about your choices for solutions.
A professionally built, secure backyard terrace can add character and functionality to your property. Contact Earthworks Landscaping today for more details.